WENR, November 2015: Asia Pacific
A new ‘third pole’ in higher education
Asia is becoming a ‘third pole’ in higher education, as the bipolar world of higher education previously dominated by Europe and North America is set to change, a conference organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, and the Singapore government heard last week. According to the QS global university rankings there are 19 Asian universities in the top 100; five years ago there were just 15.
However, speakers at the conference noted the rise of Asia will not disrupt the current supremacy of higher education in North America and Europe until it also strengthens inter-regional mobility and collaboration. Western academia is still a benchmark for quality. Bertil Andersson, president of Nanyang Technological University, noted Singapore takes top academics from the Western world to “quick start” its knowledge economy.
But as Asia matures as a higher education power, it is also beginning to face similar problems to the West. How Asian countries address issues of institutional autonomy, academic freedom and aging populations, for example, “provides opportunities for the rest of the world to learn”, said Steve Egan, vice-president at the University of Bath in England.
Despite the predictions of an emerging ‘third pole’, Asia’s emergence on the global higher education landscape is not yet on a par with universities in the West. For example, 25% of Singaporean students prefer to enroll in a foreign university even if it is lower ranked internationally than a Singaporean one. But “time’s up” for the West, Andersson said. It cannot be taken for granted in the longer term as the universities and higher education systems in Asia “become better and better”.
– University World News
Australian universities call for innovation strategy
Australia’s universities are calling for a bold new research and innovation investment strategy, arguing that it is vital to the economic transformation that the government and opposition parties both say the country must make. In the policy statement, Universities Australia said with 40% of existing jobs tipped to disappear in the next 20 years, university education and research will be “vital to generate new jobs, new industries and new sources of income for Australia”.
The Universities Australia policy statement calls for a radical re-think and commitment from government to create the conditions for innovation and prosperity to flourish. One initiative involves investment in a major technology and innovation program, similar to the UK’s Catapult initiative, to stimulate economic growth and diversification in university-industry engagement.
Professor Barney Glover, chair of Universities Australia and Vice-Chancellor and President of Western Sydney University, warned against reducing the value of higher education to its economic benefits alone, but instead to also value inquiry and how knowledge itself is created, as well as the complex environment in which any economy operates.
Technology was bringing about the most profound, disruptive change, he said. He cited as an example of the disruptive power of technology the development of driverless cars, with implications for transport, urban design, emergency response, educational opportunity, healthcare and social interactions. The enormous scale, mobility and competitiveness of the international labor market are transforming the jobs and job security of Australians and reshaping workplace productivity, processes and culture, he said.
The Universities Australia statement said the value of the stock of knowledge generated by university research was estimated at $160 billion in 2014. This is equivalent to almost 10% of our GDP and exceeds the entire value of Australia’s mining industry. Some 3.8 million new skilled graduates will be needed for the knowledge economy over the next decade, it said.
– University World News
Australia’s minister for education and training prioritizes international education
Australia’s new government will push ahead with plans laid out by the previous administration to grow the country’s international education sector with even more zeal and enthusiasm, as evidenced by the minister for education and training’s address to the Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide last week.
Minister Simon Birmingham reiterated the priorities of the draft international education national strategy released by his predecessor Christopher Pyne in April: quality, employability, technology and improved student experience. Birmingham also linked the importance of free trade agreements in the region to the success of Australia’s industry and said the government aims to secure similar deals with India by the end of the year.
He recognized the importance of employability for international graduates, calling for greater collaboration with business and industry and encouraged the acceptance of technology driven modes of teaching “to ensure our institutions are responding to the change that is coming at them with great pace”. He also pointed out the success of the New Colombo outbound mobility plan which will have supported 10,000 students to work and study across 28 locations in the Indo-Pacific region by the end of next year.
Birmingham also endorsed Austrade’s Australian International Education 2025 development strategy that aims to double the number of international students studying in Australia to one million and increase offshore enrollments to 10 million over the next decade.
– The PIE News
Chinese universities moving up in the ranks
US research universities dominate US News & World Report‘s second annual global higher education rankings, and an expansion in the numbers of institutions included this year helped to catapult China into the number two slot, ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.
The rankings, culled from a pool of 1,000 contenders, were derived from data provided by Thomson Reuters InCites research analytics solutions, Web of Science and other publicly available sources. They were based on 12 indicators, with 25% of the overall methodology tied to findings of an Academic Reputation Survey. The survey, conducted in 10 languages, asked higher education leaders to assess programs in disciplines with which they were familiar. Other key factors were related to publications, citations in scholarly journals, international collaboration and number of PhDs awarded.
China’s 57 universities, up from 27 last year, were led by Peking University at 46th, comprising about 8% of the total. It was followed by the United Kingdom, with 55 universities (7.3%) and Germany, with 50 universities (6.7%). In Times Higher Education World University Rankings, released recently, the United States showed “signs of decline”, as did Japan and South Korea. Countries with improved performances in an expanded ranking that examined 1,128 universities worldwide and doubled its list to 800, include the United Kingdom and Germany.
– University World News
China announces ‘World Class 2.0’
China has announced a new scheme, likely to be backed by billions of dollars of funding, to ensure its elite universities rise into the global club of world-class universities. Dubbed ‘World Class 2.0’, the scheme announced by the Ministry of Education in August includes creating hubs for international collaboration with overseas universities close to existing top university campuses but separate from them, as part of the internationalization drive that will ensure the best universities achieve world-class status.
The new World Class 2.0 project replaces China’s C9 project, which ended a year ago, to propel its top nine universities into the elite league. It will concentrate on boosting the research base of China’s top nine universities and aims to get six universities into the leading group of universities globally by 2020.
Several provinces have already launched additional schemes sparked by the central government’s World Class 2.0 initiative. Shanghai, for example, recently announced a plan to support local universities with US$0.5 billion over three years, and Guangdong province said it would double the funding to its own universities.
In announcing its world-class universities program 2.0, the government reaffirms support to world-class universities and those that are already in the 985 and 211 programs. However, unlike the previous programs, World Class 2.0 will introduce competition – non-985 and 211 universities will be able to compete if their academic disciplines are reaching top-notch national standards. The new program will also have a medium-term review and the performance assessment results will be linked to their funding. At the same time certain universities that fail can be kicked out of the program.
– University World News
Hong Kong universities under cyber attack
Cyber attacks on Hong Kong universities are on the rise amid fresh fears that state-backed hackers are the main culprits, with one campus admitting that it is fighting an unprecedented number of daily intrusions. Top security experts have warned of a noticeable rise in the number of cyber attacks on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that bore the hallmarks of state-sponsored hackers.
Hackers accessed University of Hong Kong vice chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson’s email account several times in the past year. HKU legal academic and Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting also suffered email hacking attacks over HK$1.45 million in donations he had received. The university’s polling program was also hacked two years ago. Two months ago, some of Hong Kong’s major universities were allegedly the victims of a major global hack that encompassed more than 100 academic and government agencies.
There had been a 38 per cent rise of hacking incident reports this year, according to Hong Kong’s cyber security watchdog. The major increase comes from phishing incidents seeking names and data that have increased by 213 percent over the same period last year. The trend comes amid a fierce debate over academic freedom at the city’s universities following the controversial rejection of Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun’s appointment as pro-vice chancellor at the University of Hong Kong.
– South China Morning Post
Expansion in India
Foreign universities crave access to India’s booming higher-education market. Less well known is how some Indian institutions are venturing overseas. This month Amity, a non-profit which, unusually, is owned by a for-profit conglomerate, AKC Group, will open its latest foreign outpost, in Romania.
The home market is expanding rapidly—by some estimates, as many as 42m Indians may be in further or higher education by 2020. But the field is crowded: more than 35,000 colleges and 700 universities vie for students. So it makes sense also to pursue the 28m people of Indian heritage who live abroad, and the 200,000 Indians who go overseas to study each year.
An undergraduate course might cost $13,000 a year in Dubai, triple the rate at an Indian campus. Vinod Bhat, vice-chancellor of the Manipal Group, a chain of six universities, says 60,000 would-be doctors compete for just 190 places each year in the group’s mother institution in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. India’s universities and colleges have another reason to expand abroad: to get good marks in the most prominent international rankings, and opening campuses abroad makes that easier to achieve.
Private-university bosses acknowledge that, for all the reasons to expand abroad, it is no route to quick riches. “We have a ten-to-fifteen-year mindset, we are very patient,” says Amity’s Mr. Chauhan. Nevertheless, says Mr. Bhat of Manipal, “you have to have the will to look at the world as your market”—while not forgetting the main prize back home.
– The Economist
New Zealand prioritizes international education
The government in New Zealand has included international education as one of its seven priority export areas to grow in its Business Growth Agenda launched this month.
Among the initiatives to boost education exports, the government is planning a review of Education New Zealand, the international education development agency, an expansion of inbound scholarships to students in Latin America and to leverage international alumni networks. International education is worth nearly NZ$2.85bn to the country’s economy and supports more than 30,000 jobs. Last year, the number of international students rose 13% to 110,198, the highest since 2004.
“In an increasingly competitive world, we need to ensure our international education strategy is fit for purpose and is attracting students who can benefit New Zealand,” the agenda reads, adding that the program aims to “build brand ambassadors for New Zealand to develop the international marketers, traders, diplomats and entrepreneurs of tomorrow”.
– The PIE News
A more Asian curriculum
As Yale-NUS College, the flagship liberal arts program in Asia run by Yale and the National University of Singapore, inaugurated its new campus with three residential colleges this month, there have been rumblings of discontent over the course content.
The Yale-NUS liberal arts degree is based on Yale’s tried-and-tested formula, with some localized content that sets it apart from its US counterpart as a program for Asia. However, several academics in Singapore admitted they were “stunned” when Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, stressed in an official speech that Yale-NUS College should not be a “carbon copy” of Yale in the US.
The prime minister’s remarks came as Yale-NUS is undergoing a review of its curriculum two years after the first cohort entered in 2013, and already scheduled for this year. A student-led report on the academic program is being included in the review of the common curriculum – approximately 38% of the course content is taken by all students irrespective of their major. The common curriculum consists of a broad-based selection of courses including arts, humanities, science and social science courses.
Some students told University World News that the institution did not yet have the breadth of faculty to deliver a broad-based curriculum. Yale-NUS had some 70 faculty members during the past year and local media in Singapore have highlighted the departure of three of the four founding deans in the past year. Currently around 40% of faculty were from Asia, and 60% from Europe and the US.
Prime Minister Lee had noted in his October 12 speech: “Asia is different from the US. Globalization and technology are changing the way we live, presenting many countries with similar challenges – income inequality, wage stagnation, youth unemployment, aging population, rapid economic, social and political change.” Lee said Yale-NUS graduates needed skills “that will enable them to help countries in Asia adapt to a rapidly changing world”.
– University World News
Rapid change in Asia and Technology
The development of technology, particularly online learning, and the emergence of Asian countries as strong higher education performers and a major source of students will shape the future of higher education in the coming years. Many countries and individual higher education institutions are keeping a close eye on the ongoing rise in higher education in Asia to see what impact it will have on the global landscape.
However, many countries are finding it challenging to keep up with such rapid changes while at the same time dealing with a major expansion of the higher education sector. The tensions that must be addressed include adapting to the competition in higher education, more diversity and greater mobility of students and faculty, particularly from Asia to the West, while at the same time catering to the rising aspirations and employment expectations of the population at a time of rapid technological change.
As employability and relevant skills become an issue for higher education around the world, another tension being faced by higher education systems is the one between ensuring students have the specialist education that employers want, while at the same time providing broad-based education that provides wider skills – two contradictory goals. A young person may be much less attracted by such national imperatives. For them education is about where to channel their energies and passions.
Any discussion on higher education must involve discussion of both the economy and society, Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s co-Acting Education Minister, said. This is because “education systems exist and have meaning only in context” and these contexts are evolving, with significant implications for higher education.
– University World News
Advocating direct election
There have been rising voices advocating for a direct presidential election system among national universities across the country.
After Aug. 17 when professor Goh Hyun-chul of Pusan National University committed suicide in support of the preservation of direct election system and democratization of universities, PNU and Korea Maritime and Ocean University chose a direct election system followed by Chungnam National University and Gyeongsang National University.
With the voting result, the faculty council of Gyeongsang National University will summon the committee of professors on next Wednesday to resolve the direct presidential election system regulations and detailed application regulations, which were designed by the Special Committee on President Election.
The council will select the next president by Nov. 15, 30 days before the end of the current president`s term.
The Dong-A Ilbo