- Vietnam: Slashing Enrolment for Quality
- Australia: New Australian MOOC
- Canada: $23m for international education strategy
- UK: Competition & UK Universities
Vietnam’s Ministry of Higher Education and Training has said it will slash enrolments by thousands of students at 23 universities and colleges. Deputy Education Minister Bui Van Ga told local media last week that the new policy was to “focus on quality instead of quantity”.The announcement was made this month in advance of upcoming nationwide university entrance examinations in July.The ministry has said that enrolment quotas would be cut “between 10% and 100%” at the 23 institutions “because of failures to meet required conditions on lecturers and facilities”.But the radical cutbacks are also a signal that after two decades of booming enrolments, the development of higher education in Vietnam is decelerating, education experts said.
The Aussie Coursera? A new homegrown MOOC platform arrives.Open Universities Australia, a private distance and online education organisation, has stepped into the world of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with a new online platform called Open2Study. Paul Wappett, Open Universities Australia CEO, said students wouldn’t “pay a cent” for courses with no hidden costs for textbooks, student admin or exams. “We’re focused on delivering outstanding quality, but without the price tag”, he said. But, he maintained, these courses would not be a replacement for tertiary studies. The courses were designed “unashamedly to let the student taste what is available, getting them familiar with higher learning, so they can build the confidence to go onto further study.”
The Canadian government has unveiled “key elements” of its long awaited international education strategy, and allocated CAN$23 million to supporting the plan in the latest federal budget. It has also promised $42 million over two years to speed up visa processing for all temporary residents including students.Despite yesterday’s budget being called “no frills”, due to the country’s deficit struggle, the government emphasised the economic contribution international students made to Canada and a desire for it to grow.There was no mention of bold calls to double the number of international students, but the government promised CAN$10 million over two years for post-secondary marketing activities. This will include “targeted market plans for priority markets, better promotion of a cohesive Canadian education brand, and a sophisticated web marketing strategy”.
The belief that students must pay for their own education has almost always been promoted in tandem with a second logically separate argument: the belief that higher education is a competitive market subject to government-enforced price controls.If these price controls are removed, the theory goes, Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ will work its magic: competition will in the long term reduce prices.However, as every undergraduate text book explains, the case for removing price controls depends crucially on the assumption that behaviour will be characterised by vigorous competition – especially price competition. In choosing a university, as in selecting an academic journal, reputation trumps both economic cost and more objective measures of quality.