WENR, December 2015: Europe


Severe budget cuts spark student protests in Denmark

Tens of thousands of students from more than 40 student organizations gathered in central Copenhagen and Aarhus, to protest against the US$1.3 billion education cuts planned by the Løkke Rasmussen government over the next four years.

In a statement announcing the October 29 march, the Denmark’s Student Alliance said, “The billions cut will mean huge quality reductions in the whole educational system and lead to closing down of studies and to significant reductions in the teaching staff. Politicians should have higher ambitions for the quality of our education.”

In Copenhagen, students marched from the central square to the parliament, focusing on three demands: “Stop the budget cuts in the billion class!”; “Improve quality,” and “Invest in the future.”

The student protests are a follow-up to an avalanche of statements in the press by industrialists, university managers and representatives from labor organizations in reaction to the austerity measures announced by Higher Education and Science Minister Esben Lunde Larsen in August when he characterized Danish universities as “kornfede” (“fattened up”).

Police estimated that 22,000 students protested. Student organizations claimed the real number of protesters was 40,000.

University World News [1]
October 29, 2015


Foreign students face fees in Finland

As of January 1, the Finnish government plans to introduce a minimum tuition fee for students from outside the European Union or the European Economic Area. The plan would also give higher education institutions the freedom to set higher fees. The government’s plan would involve adding regulations to the University Act and the Polytechnics Act, and has yet to be approved by parliament.

The Ministry of Education and Culture said in a statement on its website that the objective of the proposal is both to “stimulate further exports of higher education courses” and to “improve the financial basis of higher education institutions.” It is also planning to develop incentives so that those students who have graduated and paid tuition fees will be motivated to stay and work in Finland upon graduation.

If approved, the law will come into force on January 1, 2016, giving universities the freedom to start charging fees from that date, and will be compulsory for higher education institutions after August 1, 2017.

University World News [2]
October 29, 2015


German universities welcome refugees

The German government has announced extra support for refugees seeking to study in the country, with a new package of measures developed with the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.

The measures focus on identifying skills and potentials, and on ensuring that applicants have the ability to study and are prepared via special subject-based courses. They will also address efforts to better integrate refugee students in institutions.

“Germany’s universities are centers of internationality and stand for an active welcome culture. They set an important example for the integration of refugees,” says DAAD President Margret Wintermantel.

In all, the federal government will be providing around €100 million (US$107 million) for these measures over the next four years, with €27 million earmarked for next year.

University World News [3]
November 16, 2015


Dublin college receives donation to tackle dementia

The largest philanthropic donation in the history of the Republic of Ireland will fund a new dementia research institute at Trinity College Dublin. The €138.4 million (£97 million) gift by Atlantic Philanthropies will enable the creation of the Global Brain Health Institute, which will be jointly based at the University of California, San Francisco.

The initiative, announced by Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny on November 17, will train 600 global leaders over 15 years in the U.S., Ireland and across the world to carry out dementia research, deliver healthcare, and change policies and practices. It will also partner with other institutions in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia to combat the disease, which affects more than 48 million people globally.

The central program will graduate “fellows” over a two-year period who will receive hands-on experience in diagnosis, treatment and long-term management of patients with cognitive disorders, as well as elderly people who are at risk of brain health disorders. They will also be trained in how to help affected families and their caregivers.

Times Higher Education [4]
November 20, 2015


Russia’s project 5-100 closer to goal

Six more universities have joined Russia’s Project 5-100, an initiative created to get five of the country’s universities into the top 100 global rankings.

The six new institutions were chosen from 18 who participated in the final stage of the selection, which was then narrowed down to 10 in the second round. The universities had to present their academic excellence programs which were then discussed by those judging.

Project 5-100 was set up in 2013. Since the project began, more than 250 joint educational programs with foreign partners have been launched. There has also been a rise in international with some of the participating universities seeing the number of international students reaching a proportion of 20% of the student body.

The deadline for the goal was set for 2020; however there are discussions that it may be extended beyond this to 2035.

The Pie News [5]
October 30, 2015

United Kingdom

Academics boycott Israeli Universities

More than 300 academics from across the United Kingdom, including from top universities, pledged not to accept invitations for academic visits to Israel, not to act as referees in activities related to Israeli academic institutions, and not to cooperate in any other way with Israeli universities.

The signatories pledged to continue their commitment until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights. The said they would, however, continue to work with Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities.

The Union of Jewish Students, in a statement on its website, said it opposed all academic boycotts and accused the group of academics of being “unconstructive” and doing nothing to support the peace process. “In contrast there are thousands of students who engage in thoughtful discussion on Israel-Palestine, many of whom are working hard in support of projects that export coexistence rather than importing foreign conflict,” it said.

Jane Hardy, professor of global political economy at the University of Hertfordshire, stressed that this was not a blanket boycott, but a boycott of those institutions “directly or indirectly complicit in the systematic and illegal occupation of Palestine.” The commitment does not call for the termination of links with individual colleagues nor the end of dialogue, she said.

University World News [6]
October 30, 2015

Study says white British children are least likely to attend university

White British children are the least likely of any ethnic group to go to university, a five-year study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed for the first time.

The research found that students from every ethnic minority are now more likely to go to university than white British children. For instance: Chinese children are 75% more likely to attend university; Bangladeshi children are 48.8% more likely, and Pakistani children are 44.7% more likely to do so. Experts said lack of aspirations and expectations among white British children were to blame for the trend. But they also said high aspirations among new migrant families and better levels of attainment among black British children are a factor.

The Telegraph [7]
November 10, 2015

Visa changes affect UK colleges

Student visa changes could cost independent UK colleges that enroll international students more than £300,000 (U.S. $456,954.72) a year by 2017 due to, Study UK has said. The association is among six representative bodies that have signed a joint statement condemning the changes that came into force this week.

The losses are mostly accounted for by anticipated declines in international student fees. English UK, the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Exporting Education UK, the National Union of Students and the British Association of Independent Schools with International Students have all signed a statement this week saying that the changes do “nothing but discourage students from coming to the UK”.

The visa changes include a reduction in the length of the Tier 4 visa given to students studying at most UK colleges for three to two years. They also mean that international students at most UK colleges must return home before switching into another visa category, including the Tier 2 skilled visa, held by most international graduates who work in the UK after graduation.

The Pie News [8]
November 13, 2015