- UK: Elite Russell Group of universities announce four new members
- Mexico: New regulations for private institutions
- Uganda: Private universities emerge in Uganda
Leaving their 1994 Group membership , Queen Mary, Durham, Exeter, and York have all joined the elite Russell Group, which now has 24 members. The Group represents the UK’s elite group of research intensive institutions including Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial. According to the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008, 60% of research in the UK is produced by the Russell Group. Professor Michael Arthur, chair of the Russell Group and the vice-chancellor of Leeds University, says that the four institutions were invited to join the Group because of their innovation and research intensity across a broad range of subjects.
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The number of private institutions have grown considerably in Mexico, from 995 in 2006 to close to 1,500 in the current year. The number of students attending these universities increased from 400,000 in 2006 to one million in 2012 and come mostly from underprivileged backgrounds. The rapid growth rates are prompting many to be concerned with the quality of education received at private institutions, particularly because there are no quality assurance regulations in place. In order to curb this, the Ministry of Education has announced that private institutions will go through a thorough assessment process by national assessment bodies to ensure standards are up to scratch. The government is trying to balance increasing student enrolment numbers (Mexico (37%) trails behind Chile (56%) and Argentina (71%) for instance) with policing new institutions for quality.
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A year after the furore surrounding Makerere University, which was once known as the ‘Harvard of Africa’, many are contemplating the role of private institutions in the country. Makerere, some are saying suffers from overcrowding which may have contributed to the strikes that took place last year. Private institutions, which total 30 in the country, are viable alternatives for many however some worry that the rapid growth in private institutions may contribute to further divisions within society. Mahmood Mamdani, director of Makerere’s Institute of Social Research, says that ‘commericialisation’ of higher education may lead to an even deeper divide between the rich and poor. Private institutions at the moment costs more than public universities and Professor Mamdani worries that only richer students could afford to go to a private institution while poorer students are relegated to overcrowded and badly managed public institutions
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By Danny Byrne
The first ever ranking of Latin American universities was launched by QS on 4th October with an event at Canning House in London. Attended by an important number of embassies from Latin America in UK, journalists, universities in the UK, and other key stakeholders, the event was sponsored by IELTS and supported by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and the Canning House, and viewed live online by over 2,000 people among universities, students, employers, media and independent organisations from Latin America and other countries in the world.
The event was opened by Professor Maxine Molyneu, Director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas, who welcomed the new ranking as a positive development for universities in the region.
“This exercise draws attention to the significant achievements that Latin America has made in higher education, and serves as a reminder that a good number of universities have attained international standing for the quality of their research and teaching programs,” Molyneu stated. “The information will help to support international exchange and collaboration between scholars and institutions, and that in turn will help to advance knowledge”.
Introducing the new exercise, QS Managing Director Nunzio Quacquarelli situated QS University Rankings: Latin America™ within an evolution toward more nuanced and targeted QS research exercises, stretching from the first QS World University Rankings® in 2004 through to the QS Asian University Rankings™, QS World University Rankings® by Subject, QS Stars™, and the now QS University Rankings: Latin America™.
“QS serves the informational need of students and parents first and foremost, and we have set out to innovate in the information we provide since our launch in 1990,” he stated. “These rankings meet a real need for information for a major part of the world’s population”.
QS Head of Research Ben Sowter pointed to increased student mobility as one of the factors driving the need for greater comparative information on the region’s universities, citing as an example the 250% growth in international students in Chile between 2000 and 2008. “There has been a dramatic change in some of the migration patterns and some of the decisions being made by international students in the region,” Sowter stated. “While much of that mobility stems from within Latin America, increasingly European students are beginning to look to the region as a potential destination.”
Sowter outlined the detailed consultation with Latin American institutions that QS undertook while finalizing the methodology for the rankings. A survey of over 110 institutions in the region identified the importance of factors such as the proportion of academics with a PhD, web presence, and research papers per faculty, which were introduced for the first time alongside more staple QS rankings criteria such as academic and employer reputation, student/faculty ratio and research citations.
“University systems in Latin America are now among the fastest changing and fastest growing in the world,” said Sowter. “We have been able to gather an unprecedented level of information to put together a much richer comparative picture of Latin American higher education than has ever been compiled before”.
QS University Rankings: Latin America™ Project Manager Liliana Casallas emphasised the wider importance of the rankings for universities in the region, and outlined the extensive consultation that ensured that data was available from all universities in the region: “This has just been a very valuable exercise for universities in data collection, integration and communication within the different departments”, Casallas stated. “For some it has been easier than for others, but this is one of the indirect benefits of participation in this type of study”.
Casallas also stressed that the rankings will expand and develop as they mature, with universities becoming more familiar with data collection processes and continual work being carried out by QS to develop new assessment criteria. “The next edition of QS will have more challenges, such as developments in the methodology, expanding and improving channels with universities for data collection, strengthening data collection in Central America in particular, increasing our operational capacity, and including new partners and sponsors”.
To follow the video conferences and dowload the presentations please click here
by Liliana Casallas
Six Latin American universities were featured in the QS World University Rankings®: Arts and Humanities released on http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings, revealing strength in Latin America’s universities in Modern Languages, Philosophy, Geography, History, English and Linguistics.
- Brazil, with four universities featured, is best-performing country in the region
- Mexico’s Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) ranks in top 100 in five of the six ranked subjects
- Argentina’s Universidad de Buenos Aires in top 100 for Modern languages and English
by Abby Chau
- Ranking-related news this past week includes musings across the pond regarding university rankings and their foothold in higher education. The French government has just published a new rankings based on 43,000 graduate students surveyed from 63 of the country’s 83 institutions. Paris-XI, Lyon I, and Rennes I ranked the highest, respectively. The findings come at a time when President Sarkozy is ramping up his government’s pledge to grant the country’s universities more autonomy. Some praise the findings, saying that the rankings show that universities must develop career services to help graduates find jobs. Critics of the rankings are dismayed by what they see as yet another exercise to try to homogenise a disparate and unique higher education university system. Some universities like Jussieu, based in Paris, and Dauphine refused to participate in the rankings.
Full Story: New York Times
More: New York Times
- Indian Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal and UK’s universities minister David Willets have recently announced that higher education expenditure will grow annually by 13% in the next decade. Since the 1950s, the number of institutions in India have dramatically augmented, from 28 to 504. Still despite this enormous boom, the country is still 800 universities short to accommodate the growing middle class who are now eyeing higher education as a means to a fruitful future. In 1981, the average Indian household was spending 1.46% on education, now that number has risen to 7.5%.
Full Story: University World News
by Abby Chau
- A fiscal crisis in Mexico is threatening the existence of 33 public universities. The estimated $35bn financial turmoil, caused by a pension shortfall is deemed critical for ten universities, including the Autonomous University of Mexico State, the University of Veracruz, and the Autonomous University of Morelos. The government is now proposing to double the years of service required for professors and administrators to take part in retirement schemes from 20-25 years, to 40 years. The powerful teachers’ unions have already taken to the streets in mass protest.
Full Story: The Chronicle of Higher Education
- As the government is looking to announce plans to raise university tuition fees later on this week, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu) issued a report saying that 8.9% of the 2009 graduate class, or 21,000 students, were still unemployed in January 2010. The last time the graduate unemployment level reached such a high was in 1993. The findings also found that IT graduates were hardest hit, with a 16% unemployment rate. This is in contrast to approximately 10% of unemployed graduates who read media studies, engineering, or architecture. Students with law and geography degrees fared the best, with a 6.2% and 7.4% jobless rate.
Full Story: BBC
- Measuring 17 countries, Canadian research firm Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA) has published the ranking results of the most affordable and accessible higher education systems. The Global Higher Education Rankings 2010: Affordability and accessibility in comparative perspective looks at Australia, France, Mexico, Portugal, Estonia, Japan, and others. Surprising results include the United States coming in at 12th for affordability but 4th for accessibility which indicates that lower costs is not the only factor to accessibility in higher education. Finland comes out on top, ranking 1st in both categories.
Full Story: University World News Read more
by Abby Chau
Here are this week’s news stories:
- Scotland is opening satellite campuses in Hong Kong, Dubai, and Bangladesh. As the UK is facing a higher education squeeze, Scottish universities are doing what many of their peers are already doing, diving into the very lucrative international market. However Ruth Moir, Head of International Development, says that this move was not provoked by the recession but rather providing quality higher education is the main goal. As well as establishing a nursing college in India, there are plans to also set up a biofuel research centre in Hong Kong.
Full Story: Guardian
- He is considered a brilliant entrepreneur in some circles. Others just consider his empire the villain in the open source debate. Whether you hate him or love him, you can’t deny that Bill Gates is an influential man with more money than he knows to do with. So, when he proclaims that traditional higher education will be replaced by the web in five years, some will sit up and listen. Speaking at the Techonomy 2010 conference recently, Gates said high tuition costs and the accessibility of the internet will change the higher education landscape. These remarks come as the University of California, Berkeley plans to expand its online arm.
Full Story: Tech Radar UK
by Abby Chau
From the Iraq higher education system to a boost in the kiwi economy, here are this week’s news stories:
- During the India-UAE: Leveraging the Knowledge Economy Paradigm forum in Abu Dhabi, both countries pledged more robust cooperation in education. Citing the economic climate and the possibility of a human resource crisis, both India and the UAE said distance learning programmes may be a good way forward.
Full Story: Gulf News
- One of the many legacies the U.S will leave behind in Iraq appears to take the form of an uber expensive liberal arts university. The American University of Iraq, according to this article, has only attracted 375 students as high tuition costs and the impracticality of a liberal arts education are cited as barriers to attract enrolment.(See our 16.3.2010 post for more information regarding the Iraq Higher Education System)
Full Story: Guardian
More: Asharq Alawsat