WENR, June 2018: Europe

EU: European Commission Proposal Opens Erasmus+ to All Countries

The EU academic collaboration program Erasmus+, will be open to all countries in 2021. Currently the program is open only  to countries within the EU, some in the process of joining, and members of the European Free Trade Association. Under the new rules, countries from outside the European Economic Area will be allowed to fully participate, however they must agree to a certain level of contribution and will not have decision-making authority within the program. The new rules present a route for continued collaboration between the EU and the U.K., after the U.K. exits the European Union in the coming year.

Times Higher Education [1]
May 31

U.K.: Large Number of Fake Degrees Sold Online

Fake degrees are a more prevalent issue than many may suspect. Recent reporting by the Sunday Times revealed that one website sold more than 3,000 fake U.K. university degrees between 2013 and 2014. The fake degrees, which range from bachelor’s degrees to doctorates and have fake seals and signatures, can be obtained for as little as £200. Though the false nature of these degrees can certainly be ascertained, only 20 percent of U.K. employers run proper checks on applicant qualifications. Using fake qualifications is fraud and is punishable by unlimited fines and life imprisonment.

Press and Journal [2]
May 28

Germany: No Tuition Fees Make Germany Attractive Destination for International Students

The removal of tuition fees at many German universities has caused enrollment boosts across the country. A recent study by the international student’s guide Studying in Germany, found that a university’s charging low fees or no fees was the primary driver in the choice of school, followed by the university’s quality of education and academic staff.

University World News [3]
May 24

Finland: Universities See First Ever Surplus of English Language Courses

Interest in Finnish Universities from students outside the EU has fallen sharply since the introduction of tuition fees for non-EU students was announced in January of 2016. For the first time ever Finland’s supply of English language courses has outpaced demand. Russia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Germany, and Iran have long been major source countries for international education in Finland. Student interest from these countries made up 53 percent of international student interest in Finnish Universities in 2015; it constitutes just 16 percent of international student interest today.

The Pie News [4]
May 24

U.K.: Theresa May Says U.K. Willing to Pay to Stay in EU Collaboration Programs

Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that the U.K. is willing to pay for continued full participation in EU research and innovation programs. May also stated that for their financial contribution, the U.K. would like to “maintain a suitable level of influence.” May also took a softer stance on immigration, reiterating that the U.K. has no cap on the number of students coming to their universities. Despite these assurances, the lingering impact of May’s immigration crackdown during her time as Home Secretary remains a hindrance for international student recruitment within the U.K.

University World News [5]
May 21

U.K.: Post-Brexit Ireland Deal Threatens EU Collaboration

The plan to allow Irish students to qualify for student loan funding and home fee status in the U.K. after Brexit has been called discriminatory by experts, and could cause problems for the U.K.’s participation in EU higher education programs. Despite this, universities minister Sam Gyimah says the U.K. is committed to keeping U.K. higher education programs open to Irish nationals under the same eligibility criteria as those from the U.K.

Times Higher Education [6]
May 17

Sweden: Universities Cancel Contract with Elsevier Over Open-Access

Swedish universities have moved to cancel their contract with journal publisher Elsevier because of the company’s shortcomings in providing open-access to journal articles published by affiliated researchers. The cancellation is one part of a large effort from universities to push publishers toward open-access models, and in turn reduce the cost of reading and publishing. Open-access proponents hope this model will increase scholarly communication and foster more collaboration.

Times Higher Education [7]
May 16

Ukraine: New Report Aims to Address Corruption in Higher Education

A new report by the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) – aims to address widespread corruption at public Ukrainian universities. In the report, UNU-MERIT points to low academic salaries, low student motivation, and a lack of punishment mechanisms as factors leading to the corruption. The report proposes various policies to address this, including standardization of exams and structural changes to the higher education system.

University World News [8]
May 11

Switzerland: Swiss Tech Universities See Record Enrollment

Switzerland’s technology institutes are seeing record high enrollment, particularly in the information technology and engineering sciences fields. Enrollments in 2017 were 3.3 percent higher than in 2016, and 33 percent higher than they were a decade prior. The Swiss higher education sector also entered more than 500 new cooperation agreements with the private sector.

Swiss Info [9]
May 5

Finland: Finnish Universities Rank First in GDP Adjusted Ranking

Finland’s universities are the highest performing, according to Universitas 21’s development adjusted ranking for 2018. The universities of the U.K. and Serbia take the second and third spots respectively. The ranking is based on 24 variables, including research output, graduate employment, and education spending relative to GDP. Nordic countries performed very well overall in the ranking, in part because of their high levels of government expenditure.

Times Higher Education [10]
May 11

U.K.: Outward Student Mobility Rate Remains Constant Despite University Goals

The outward mobility rate of U.K. students has stagnated over the past two years, rising only slightly, from 16,165 to 16,580 over the most recent period, because of an increase in the overall student population. These numbers cast doubt on Universities UK International’s ability to reach its target of doubling the number of full-time undergraduates studying at foreign institutions from 6.6 percent in 2014 to 13.2 percent by 2020.

Times Higher Education [11]
May 10