HE News Brief 8.5.12
By Abby Chau
- US: Heavy hitters team up to offer free online courses
- Middle East: Spotlight on teaching quality
- Brazil: Affirmative action decision upheld by Supreme Court
Prestigious universities in the States are putting their weight behind free online courses. Harvard and MIT have announced a partnership called edX which will begin enrolment this fall. With 60 million dollars to commence the project, the universities will be offering five courses including classes in engineering and humanities. University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Stanford have also announced a partnership recently called Coursera, which will be offering free online courses. Both MIT and Stanford have already pioneered successful free online course offerings, with MITx enrolling 120,000 students and Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence course signing up 160,00 students.
At a recent conference in Riyadh concerning ‘World-class teaching universities’, the general director for international affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has highlighted a strategy to becoming a top teaching university. Salim Al Malik called for universities to evaluate teaching quality and to set up learning centres to train staff, as well as, to make teaching training a component of postgraduate studies. Universities, he said, are measured too heavily on research alone and that teaching should not be relegated in the pursuit of becoming a world-class institution.
Brazil has upheld sweeping affirmative action policies in higher education which allows a quota for enrolling students of African or indigenous descent. Now the country, which has more people of African descent than any other country outside Africa, is starting to tackle the economic and social divides that many are saying are linked to racial politics. Supporters of the bill say that they hope this policy will not only tackle social issues but help bridge the learning gap necessary for job creation.