HE News Brief 8.6.10

by Abby Chau


From a French higher education revolution to a growing American uneasiness about their ranking, here are this week’s news stories:

  • The second Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education was supposed to take place in April but due to the Icelandic ash cloud, it was postponed.  Stakeholders of this conference, from Southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern States, seek to establish dialogues and agreements based on the 2007 Cairo Declaration which, akin to the Bologna Process, aims to harmonise higher education and promote knowledge sharing within member states. This editorial argues against the wholesale acceptance of Bologna and cautions against the so-called neoliberalism of internationalisation and privatisation.
    Full Story: Times of Malta
  • According to the Chronicle, France is allowing its 83 universities to become autonomous, cutting off traditional ties to the government.  In a major overhaul, Sarkozy also plans on investing billions of euros  into creating 10 regional “supercampuses” with the view to compete with American Ivy Leagues. The Chronicle posits that the poor performance of French universities in international league tables  has had a hand in ushering in this new system.
    Full Story: The Chronicle of Higher Education
          Read more

HE News Brief 1.6.10

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
              Read more

HE News Brief 25.5.10

by Abby Chau


From Bahrain’s educational overhaul to UK institutions going private, here are this week’s news stories:

  • With the help of the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), Bahrain is planning an overhaul of its education system, with plans to finalise the project by the end of 2011. This project will focus on  infrastructure, quality of education, adult education, raising standards, internationalisation and forming a unified award system.
    Full Story: Gulf Daily News  
  • For-profit higher education companies saw their shares rise when news broke that Deputy Undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education Robert Shireman plans to step down in July. It is reported that Shireman is a major critic of for-profit higher education companies (see our 4.5.2010 news brief for more on this).
    Full Story: Reuters
    More: Wall Street Journal 
  • In line with the Bologna Process, Germany plans on investing two billion euros  over the next ten years to improve university teaching quality. The money will go toward employing more staff and professors, as well as mentor and tutor programmes. In addition, a new academy has been set up to oversee the Quality Pact for Teaching, which was created to make sure that Bologna is successfully implemented.
    Full Story: eGov monitor
         Read more

HE News Brief 4.5.10

by Abby Chau


A late post with news articles for week commencing May 4th:

  • The pressure to do well on international league tables has caused a few UK universities to allegedly put pressure on students to fib on the National Student Survey. According to complaints logged with the HEFCE, students at Swansea, Anglia Ruskin, Derby, Leicester, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Kingston, and London Metropolitan were pressured by university lecturers and heads of department to score high marks on their university experience.
    Full Story: Telegraph
    More: The Guardian
  • Education stocks dropped when a U.S Department of Education official compared for-profit institutions to Wall Street firms who caused the financial meltdown. Deputy Undersecretary of Education Robert Shireman said that not only is training at these institutions questionable and they deplete federal education funding, but oversight in accrediting these for-profits is dubious.
    Full Story: Bloomberg Business Week

  • Brazil will play an instrumental role in rebuilding Haiti’s devastated Higher Education system. According to a cooperation memorandum between the two countries, academic agreements will be discussed to promote internationalisation and scholarship programmes will be introduced for Haitians who plan on post-graduate study.
    Full Story: iStockAnalyst
        Read more

HE News Brief 23.03.10

by Abby Chau


Here is another set of higher education-related news that not only dominated media headlines this past week, but also fueled debate at our staff meeting today:

  • The proposed university budget cuts dominate the higher educational headlines. This one in particular is an insightful, albeit gloomy, read of the future diagnosis of universities.
    Full Story: BBC News
  • More: A related article on whether UK educational rankings are going to falter. The Independent.
  • Global universities are poised to attract UK students with their promise of more affordable education and a rising reputation for academic excellence.
    Full Story: The Independent

Iraq – The cradle of civilization, can the civilization of advanced higher education return?

by Deena Al Hilli


Algebra, geometry and arithmetic all stem from Babylonian Mathematics in Iraq, a country once renowned for its higher educational standards. Students in Iraq were headhunted from international universities to continue their further education and apply their expertise. However, years of sanctions and wars has damaged the educational system in Iraq. Following the fall of Saddam in 2003, the system got worse before it could get better with issues such as university books and equipment being stolen, lack of school supplies, kidnapping of students and academics, terror threats, lack of clean water and many people fleeing the country to find stability and security.

An interesting article I came across which highlighted a good future for a few great Iraqi students http://www.al-jamiat.com/featured/search-great-iraqi-students talks about an initiative of improving Iraqi Education by sending 50,000 students to universities in the West.  Encouraging students to study abroad will help the government in the long term, however focusing on the remaining number of students who will be lacking world class education appears to also be in great need.

This issue led me to another article that caught my attention, an article written in 2004 http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/sep/23/research.highereducation highlighting the hardship that universities in Iraq are facing.  The best university in Iraq doesn’t have chairs for students to sit on. These issues obviously make it hard for the university to continue running, let alone improving the education standards. What happens now to the many Iraqi students who will be staying behind in the country, due to lack of funding or are not eligible to be sent abroad? Read more