India: Supreme Court Bans Distance Education for Technical Programs
India’s highest judiciary body has affirmed previous state court decisions to ban correspondence education for technical programs. The court reviewed programs at a number of deemed universities and argued that the institutions in question did not have approval to run these programs. The decision affects hundreds of students who earned distance education degrees from deemed universities. While students who graduated between 2001 and 2005 can get their degrees validated by sitting for an AICTE examination, distance education engineering degrees issued by deemed universities after 2005 have been “recalled and canceled”. The court also ordered deemed universities to refrain from offering any form of distance education programs without prior approval by the AICTE, starting in the 2018/19 academic session. Tuition fees paid by graduates with cancelled distance education degrees will be refunded.
The Times of India
China: Government Allows For-Profit Private Education
A new law that went into effect in September 2017 for the first time allows private universities and senior high schools to operate as for-profit institutions in China. The move is intended to expand educational opportunities in China in light of limits to further increase spending for public education. The introduction of for-profit education is anticipated to increase investor’s interest in China’s small but growing private education market. Only 6.3 million students are currently enrolled at private institutions compared to 29 million in the public sector. Private enrollments, however, are growing by more than 8 percent annually and are expected to reach 8 million by 2021. An increase in the number of private institutions would allow more students to enter higher education, particularly students from lower and middle income groups unable to get accepted at public universities. Private institutions often have lower admission standards than the highly competitive public schools.
China: “Xi-Thought” Institutes Established at Chinese Universities
In education at least, China’s president Xi Jinping has achieved equal standing with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping after his political ideology was enshrined in the country’s constitution at the Communist Party Congress in October 2017. 20 universities have created research institutes that will teach and promote the president’s “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in businesses, neighborhoods and villages”. University rectors and party officials expressed their intent to bring Xi’s thoughts to the “hearts and minds” of Chinese people. In addition, elementary and high schools have been directed to establish extracurricular programs to “foster emotional attachment to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Thailand: Education System in Crisis Due to Population Aging
Thailand’s education system is reeling from population aging and a decreasing number of students. Next to China, Thailand has the oldest population among developing countries in Asia – the percentage of people over the age of 65 increased by more than 50 percent between 1995 and 2016, from 5 to11 percent. This trend is predicted to continue and increase the above-65 age bracket to more than 25 percent by 2040. Thailand’s labor force will shrink by 11 percent over the same time period, while the number of tertiary students already declined from 2.5 million in 2010 to 2.2 million in 2015. This has led to a situation in which universities have more seats than applicants. The resulting funding problems threaten the existence particularly of private universities – a trend exacerbated by simultaneous attempts of the government to attract more foreign providers to establish branch campuses in Thailand. The growing shortage of students also increases quality problems as universities are lowering their admission standards.
Australia: Stricter English Requirements for Foreign Students
In an attempt to raise academic standards, Australia’s government has announced that it will tighten English language requirements for foreign students. Students without adequate English prerequisites can currently enroll in intensive English programs before assuming further studies. Now, they will also have to pass an official language test before being allowed to enroll in higher education programs. The move is intended to guard against low-quality language prep-programs, some of which did not adequately prepare foreign students. Approximately 16 percent of Australia’s 500,000 foreign students are currently attending language-prep courses, most of them from China, Brazil and Colombia.
The Straits Times