WENR, February 2014: Europe
University Mergers a Theme Across Austerity-Struck Continent
Mergers and system restructures are increasing across Europe as a result of funding cuts, reports Times Higher Education, citing a recent study.
Several university mergers have recently taken place in Belgium, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden, but institutions in many more countries are assessing similar moves, according to a report by the European University Association based on responses from national associations of rectors in 22 countries.
Only Turkey, where the number of universities has more than doubled in the past decade, is not contemplating restructuring, says the report, Designing Strategies for Efficient Funding of Higher Education in Europe, published in December.
So far, the most extensive restructuring has occurred in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Latvia. In these countries, as well as in Norway and francophone Belgium, public universities have had to absorb smaller public, non-university institutions, primarily to save money through economies of scale. Other mergers have been driven by a desire to reposition institutions in response to growing international competition, the report says.
– Times Higher Education
January 9, 2014
University of the Arctic Promotes Multi-Country Collaboration
The University of the Arctic is a not a university in the traditional degree-granting sense, rather it is an association of some 150 colleges designed to foster research collaboration, joint educational programs, and student and faculty mobility across the universities of the region, which today has a rising geopolitical profile and where the effects of climate change are at their most acute.
The University of the Arctic collaborates across the eight Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States (Alaska), plus a few associate members from non-Arctic states.
A main goal of UArctic is to increase access to Arctic-themed educational programs by increasing both mobility and capacity. Among those programs, UArctic has an undergraduate education component – a series of seven circumpolar studies courses taught online by faculty at various UArctic institutions and open to students at any college within the network. It manages the intra-Arctic, north2north mobility program, which annually sends around 200 students on funded exchanges throughout the network.
UArctic was the brainchild of the intergovernmental Arctic Council, which commissioned a feasibility study prior to the official launch of UArctic in 2001. The network receives some federal funding from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia but is dependent above all on resources provided by the member institutions and governmental and foundation grants obtained for specific projects. Another mark of its international collaborative nature is that the various different offices that make up the university are housed at institutions across its membership.
– Inside Higher Ed
January 22, 2014
Coalition Government Targets 350,000 International Students
After three months of negotiations, a coalition agreement between Germany’s biggest political parties was reached in late December. As part of the new agreement, the government aims to increase international students studying in Germany to 350,000 by 2020, while increasing outbound mobility to 50 percent of all higher education students. The main focus of the government’s recruitment efforts will be in attracting students from outside the European Union.
In the 185-page agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) the government says: “By the end of the decade we will see to it that the number of foreign students is increased by about a third, to about 350,000.”
Mobility to Germany has doubled from 140,000 international students in 1995-1996 to 280,000 in 2012-2013 resulting in a 6 percent market share of all international students globally. Of those, about 95,000 are from non-EU countries, according to data from the state-funded German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), one of the lead agencies responsible for promoting German education abroad.
Officials interviewed by The PIE News said that to attract students Germany needs to effectively promote itself as welcoming, attractive and linguistically accessible. On the last point, the government plans to continue to increase the number of English-taught programs, as it has over the last 10 years, while also encouraging the learning of German on the side. The government is also committed to keeping studies tuition free, regardless of nationality, one of the biggest pulls for foreign students and a major reason why Germany is currently the third most popular destination among foreign students, after the U.S. and UK.
Other measures designed to attract overseas talent include greatly improved rights for job seekers with a German degree or recognized overseas equivalent. With proof of degree and evidence of adequate funding to support themselves, foreign degree holders can enter the country for six months to look for work on a job seekers visa. Once they have found a job and can show that they will earn at least €46,000 (US$61,000) a year, they can stay. Under the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act introduced in April 2012, the recognition of foreign credentials is also being fast-tracked; however, that service has reportedly been underutilized, largely due to a lack of services to accommodate credential evaluations.
The government will also support DAAD’s efforts to increase the number of German students enrolled at higher education institutions abroad by allocating more funds for bursaries and scholarships abroad. Currently about one third of domestic students study abroad. The government wants to see the proportion rise to one in every two students by 2020.
– Times Higher Education
January 16, 2014
Study Reveals Multifaceted Benefits of International Students on Campus
According to the results of a survey commissioned by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), international students have significant positive impacts on host institutions, countries and economies.
The survey showed that student mobility impacts the economy positively both with regards to consumer spending and with graduates working in host countries after their studies.
The German results were compared to those of The Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Switzerland and Spain in the survey. In 2011, there were 260,702 international students in Germany. They spent a total of €1,531 billion (US$2.1 billion) on goods and services, higher than those of the other countries looked at. This spending raised €400 million in fiscal revenue, yielding a total of 22,000 new jobs.
The positive effects of student mobility were significantly higher than initial outlay, too. Public investment in international students pays for itself if 30 percent of international graduates stay on and work in Germany for at least five years, according to the study.
The economic benefits of hosting international students, while important, is just an added benefit to the exchange of knowledge, ideas and insights that they bring, Germany’s Education Minister, Johanna Wanka, stressed in discussing the findings of the government-underwritten study.
– University World News
January 16, 2014
Republic of Ireland
Technical Institutes Ready for University Upgrade
Applications to become Ireland’s first technological university could reach the Department of Education as early as the end of the year, according to a recent article in The Irish Times. Legislation should be ready by that time to allow former institutes of technology to take on this new status, the Minister for Education and Skills said in January.
A new kind of university for Ireland, the institutions will be formed by existing institutes of technology agreeing to merge and then making a bid for the new status. Existing campuses would be retained however, so the new universities would have multiple locations.
Three groups of institutes have already expressed an interest in doing so once the legislation is in place. The group most advanced towards achieving this goal includes the Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, and the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown. Similar interest has been expressed by Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee; and by Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology in the southeast.
– Irish Times
January 22, 2014
Private Funding for Russian Universities on the Increase
Big business in Russia is significantly increasing its financial contributions to national universities, according to presidents of Russia’s top universities cited by Chemistry World.
This finding is in line with a recent Times Higher Education analysis, which placed Russian universities in 11th place in terms of money secured from industry per academic. That survey found that Russian academics secured US$36,400 per researcher, up from US$25,000 in 2009.
Private investment in Moscow State University has doubled since 2009 and now accounts for about 25 percent of the university’s RUB19 billion (US$576 million) budget. The same trend has been seen at the Higher School of Economics, Russia’s most prestigious business school. Currently the school’s annual private donations are in the range of RUB1 to RUB1.5 billion – around 10 percent of total funding – and continuing to grow.
– Chemistry World
December 9, 2013
Minister Calls on Universities to Boost International Recruitment to Improve Ranking Performance
Russia’s education minister urged the country’s universities in December to work on attracting more international students after the results of a new ranking of universities in developing economies suggested that China had superior institutions of higher education, reports RIA Novosti. This year the government has allocated more than US$1 billion to raise the prestige of Russian education and to promote better results in international rankings.
Two Chinese universities – Tsinghua and Peking – took the top honors over Russia’s third-placed Moscow State University in the Times Higher Education’s new ranking of universities from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and emerging economies.
Dmitry Livanov, Russia’s education minister, said the country has the ninth largest body of students studying overseas, with close to 150,000 foreign students currently studying in Russia. The modest price of a Russian university education is the main reason why students say they choose Russia.
“We set before our leading universities the task of substantially increasing [their] attractiveness to students from other countries,” Livanov said at a press conference.
Chinese universities occupied seven of the top 10 slots in the new ranking and 40 of the top 100. Nineteen Russian universities made the BRICS ranking’s top 100 list, although Moscow State University was the only one in the top 10.
– RIA Novosti
December 17, 2013
Putin Calls for Higher Education to Act as a Bigger Driver of the Russian Economy
In his December state of the union address President Vladimir Putin called for a better, more vigorous performance by Russian universities to act as a new driver for economic development.
Russian universities were urged to sell their services to foreign students, concentrating on those ‘near abroad’ countries of the CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States – where many people still speak Russian as a first or second language.
Universities and research institutes should also be more active in developing and registering patents and licenses to take advantage of Russia’s intellectual capital. He also stressed the need to resume sustainable economic and labor productivity growth, stressing the importance of high quality education to this. To attract talent back to academia, he called for the raising of salaries.
“Together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, the government has been instructed to refine promising fields of science and technology,” Putin said, adding that a Russian National Council for Professional Qualifications should be set up within two years, tasked with approving a wide range of professional standards. He also called for investment in high quality vocational education.
The quality of Russian higher education must be improved, Putin said. “Today, both in [Moscow and Saint Petersburg] and in many regions, higher education institutions do not meet modern requirements.”
– University World News
December 13, 2013
Funding Approved for 3,000 Overseas Study Scholarships
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in December providing state funding for 1,000 graduate students to study overseas every year for the next three years, provided they return to Russia to work in the country for a minimum of three years upon completion of their foreign degree. Graduates who fail to return to Russia will be required to pay back the funds, in addition to a fine that could amount to twice the amount of the scholarship.
Funding of approximately 4.5 billion rubles ($133 million) is being budgeted for the program. Scholarships distributions are scheduled to begin later this year, with students that have completed undergraduate degrees at a Russian university able to apply for a grant of around 1.5 million rubles ($45,000) to study on a master’s, PhD or post-doctoral program at one of around 200 universities listed in the Times Higher Education, Shanghai University and QS world rankings.
The program is aimed at plugging gaps in the workforce, where currently there are shortages, particularly in areas such as science, education, government, social services, medicine and engineering. Applicants who plan to focus on studying robotic technologies, drone engineering and medical technologies are particularly welcome, Dmitry Peskov, director of the Strategic Initiatives Agency’s Young Professionals program, told public radio station Vesti FM.
– The PIE News
January 21, 2014
Swedish Industry and Higher Ed Leaders Propose Grants for International Students
A group of leaders of Swedish companies and universities have proposed a new model for financing international students through 1,500 grants. The grants would be calculated on a cost-benefit analysis of at least 20 percent of the students working and paying taxes in Sweden for five years after graduating.
The leaders represent the companies AstraZeneca, Ericsson, Volvo and AB Börje Ekholm, Gothenburg University and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. In an op-ed article in the major Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, they proposed that the grants be distributed to higher education institutions based on their numbers of fee-paying international students from outside Europe, combined with an estimate of how many of those students would be eligible for a work permit as a specialist in Sweden upon graduating.
They pointed out that Sweden had lost 80 percent of international students from outside Europe after the government introduced tuition fees in 2011 – their numbers plummeted from 8,000 to just over 1,600. Thus Sweden, with 2 percent of students from outside Europe, was far below the European Union average of 5 percent.
– University World News
January 24, 2014
2,000 Brazilian Students Choose UK Through Government Scholarship
Science without Borders (Ciência sem Fronteiras) is a Brazilian government scholarship program which aims to send 101,000 Brazilian students overseas to study at various different academic levels in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and creative industry subjects (which focus on technological and innovative development) at universities around the world.
Science without Borders UK, which is managed by the International Unit (IU) on behalf of Universities UK placed 2,000 undergraduate students in this, the fourth cohort, which started in January 2014. The numbers have grown from 519 in the September 2012 cohort. Of these, approximately 30 percent are beginning with English language instruction of either three or six months, beginning their academic studies in September 2014. In addition, a further 300 short-term PhD students and 100 full PhD students were accepted by UK universities for a 2014 start. This will bring the total number of SwB students who will have studied in the UK since the program launched in 2012 to almost 6,000.
– International Focus
China and UK Forge New University Links
Universities in the United Kingdom and China announced a series of new partnerships, expanding opportunities for students to learn overseas. David Willetts, the UK universities minister, revealed the new initiatives during the biggest ever trade mission to China in December.
The government is supporting UK universities to expand their exports through its International Education Strategy, launched earlier this year. “In China, and around the globe, the market for education is growing rapidly. We are determined that our world-class universities should build on the UK’s position as the education partner of choice for China,” Willetts said.
The education partnerships announced include the University of Nottingham investing £25 million (US$41 million) in a Marine Economy Research and Technology Transfer Center, as well as £27 million in the development of its Ningbo campus. It is also signing an agreement with Guangdong University of Finance and Guangdong provincial government to establish the Guangdong-Nottingham Advanced Finance Institute, which will train up to 2,000 Chinese financial specialists each year.
Additionally, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) is investing £80 million in its new South Campus in Suzhou, the UK’s Open University signed a new agreement with Chongqing Open University and an agreement with Peking University School of Telemedical Education. Cardiff University is establishing a £6.5 million Cancer Research Center in collaboration with Beijing‘s Capital Medical University. Lancaster University and Guangdong Provincial Office of Science & Technology are to sign an agreement outlining future collaborations, including the recently announced China Catalyst program to boost trade between UK and Chinese businesses
Meanwhile, the British Council is launching the Generation UK CEO initiative, under which it aims to increase the number of UK students going to China to 15,000 over the next three years. Currently around 4,200 UK students study in China every year.
– People’s Daily
December 9, 2013
International Enrollments Stall, India Numbers Plummet
Enrollments of non-EU students at UK higher education institutions fell in academic year 2012-13, according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), led by a dramatic 25 percent drop in Indian numbers.
The number of non-EU enrollments has risen every year since HESA records began in 1994-95, making the small 1 percent decrease to 299,970 particularly significant. More significant, though, was the precipitous 25 percent decline in Indian students, the UK’s second-biggest non-EU student market, after collapsing by 24 percent in 2011-12. Most in the industry cite the scrapping of the Post Study Work scheme as the major contributing factor behind the drop. In total there were 22,385 Indian students in the UK last year, down from over 39,000 just two years previously.
Hong Kong posted the largest growth in enrollments, year on year, with a 15 percent increase, while Chinese students continued to dominate as Britain’s number one market with a 6 percent increase to 83,790. All other countries in the top 10 were either flat or in decline, including a 19 percent drop from Pakistan.
Outside the UK, there was 5 percent growth in international enrollments for programs resulting in UK qualifications via some form of transnational education delivery method.
January 15, 2014
Examinations Watchdog De-Accredits Two Awarding Bodies
The UK’s regulator of examinations and awarding bodies, Ofqual, concluded an investigation into 13 awarding bodies offering exams to domestic and international students in England and found that two-thirds of those assessed were delivering sub-standard qualifications, while two will no longer be recognized.
The regulator published a notice of intention to withdraw recognition from the Accrediting & Assessment Bureau for Post-Secondary Schools Limited (AABPS), and already halted recognition of the London Centre of Marketing (LCM) as an official awarding body in late January.
Other exam bodies have agreed an undertaking to complete certain actions, including Association of Business Executives and Institute of Commercial Management. The review looked at 13 organizations offering qualifications to international students on Tier 4 study visas and domestic students following fraud allegations and complaints about the quality and validity of certain qualifications.
Ofqual identified several factors as likely to contribute to the falling standards, which included “a possible compromise of standards to gain commercial advantage” and “insufficient expertise” among other reasons. Inspections revealed evidence that students had achieved the AABPS Level 7 Diploma in Management in less than six months, while a program at this level would typically take between six and 12 months.
– The PIE News
January 23, 2014