WENR, October 2017: Asia Pacific

Vietnam: Universities Face Shortage of Qualified Lecturers

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, in 2016/17 the number of university instructors increased by 4.6 percent to 72,792 lecturers. Despite this increase, Vietnamese universities are struggling to find qualified teachers, especially those holding doctoral degrees. The majority of applicants are master’s degree holders, so universities fall short of meeting their quotas for lecturers with Ph.D. degrees. One of the reasons for the shortage is the low pay for lecturers in Vietnam. Holders of advanced degrees often have better employment opportunities in other fields.

Vietnam News
September 30

Australia: Decreasing Job Prospects for Returning Students in China Alarms  International Education Community

Growing dissatisfaction with the payoff of education abroad among returning students in China has Australian educators worried about the effects this trend could have on international student enrollments in Australia. With more and more Chinese students heading abroad, the returns on education abroad have decreased, as competition among the 80 percent of Chinese students that return home after graduation has grown. Foreign graduates on average earn only US$100 more than domestic graduates and may have difficulties finding jobs, due to factors like the loss of networks, employer preferences and skills that the Chinese People’s Daily called  “incompatible to domestic society”. Since a large percentage of university revenues comes from international student fees and China is the biggest sending country to Australia, Australian universities and trade associations have attempted to counter the trend with measures like more effective marketing campaigns and job fairs for Australian graduates in China. International education is Australia’s third largest export market, valued at $21.8 billion annually.

The Sydney Morning Herald
September 21

India: Sweeping Reforms Planned in Higher Education

The Indian government intends to introduce a comprehensive education reform package aimed at strengthening education and research. The reforms introduce mandatory accreditation for online and distance education programs, and call for allowing third-party accreditation agencies to accredit academic institutions in India. Academic partnerships with foreign institutions will only be permitted for India’s top 500 institutions, as experts believe that there is no adequate legislative framework for the establishment of branch campuses by foreign universities. A three-tiered university system will give top-ranked institutions the freedom to open constituent colleges, set their own tuition fees, offer online programs without geographical restrictions, allow foreign students to compromise up to 20 percent of the student body, and engage in collaborations with foreign institutions, while the remaining Indian institutions will stay under government control. At the doctoral level, the reforms seek to introduce the use of anti-plagiarism software and mandate the National Eligibility Test (NET) for university instructors for Ph.D. candidates as well. It is presently unknown when the reforms will be implemented.

Times of India
September 19

South Korea: Government Enforces Changes in Admission Procedures at Elite Universities

In an attempt to reduce competition in university admissions and curb the growing influence of private prep-schools in Korea, the government has ordered more than ten universities, including the country’s three best universities, to scale back overly difficult questions in admissions tests, many of which went beyond regular high school curricula, and were only answerable by students who attended private prep schools. Universities that do not comply with the directive will be sanctioned with partial bans on enrollments in the 2019 academic year and reduced public funding for university projects. The change is a campaign promise of President Moon Jae-in, and  intended to equalize a fiercely competitive admissions process that places  poorer students unable to afford expensive private tuition at a disadvantage.

University World News [1]
September 15

Pakistan: HEC Shuts Down 110 Ph.D. Programs Due to Quality Concerns

Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced that it suspended 110 doctoral programs at public and private universities due to quality problems. Specific reasons for the closures were not given, but Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, the chairman of the HEC, noted that the Commission will not compromise on academic corruption and plagiarism, and that it is committed to improving the quality of higher education and academic research. Pakistan’s education system has grown from 59 universities with 276,000 students in 2002 to 188 universities with up to 1.4 million students in 2017. The number of academic publications increased from 850 to a record 12,000 in 2016.

Daily Times
September 13

China: Population Aging Could Impact International Student Flows

While China is presently the largest sending country of international students to the U.S. and other countries, long term mobility from China could be influenced by population aging, which is expected to decrease the number of college-aged 18 to 24-year-olds by more than 40 percent, from 176 million in 2010 to 105 million by 2025.  ICEF Monitor notes that there are already indications of slowing growth rates in student mobility. Since 2013, previous outbound mobility growth rates of 19 percent have fallen to between 11 and 13 percent annually. Shrinking growth rates are also evident in secondary student mobility, causing increased competition in the recruitment of Chinese high school students. The trend is expected to accelerate in the years ahead and make student recruitment in China more challenging in general.

ICEF Monitor
September 6